Rutgers 250: NJAES Breed of the Month – Dogwood

Rutgers 250 variety, ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree blossom. Photo by: Dr. Tom Molnar, Rutgers NJAES.

Rutgers 250 variety, ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree blossom. Photo by: Dr. Tom Molnar, Rutgers NJAES.

Scarlet Fire™ Extends Ornamental Dogwood Season

The Rutgers 250 All-Star Variety for June, 2016 is the ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree. This is the first Cornus kousa variety released in over 45 years to the ornamental nursery market. Rutgers plant breeder Tom Molnar, continued the decades of work started by renowned breeder and professor emeritus Elwin Orton in the 1970s.

Scarlet Fire™ is a gorgeous deep pink to fuchsia-bracted dogwood tree, known for its deep, consistently pink bracts that contrast beautifully with its dark green foliage. This tree blooms in late May to early June, making it one of the latest-blooming dogwood tree varieties developed at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

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John and Anne Gerwig Directors Fund Presents First Awards

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Larry S. Katz, director-Rutgers Cooperative Extension, with Anne and John Gerwig.

The first John and Anne Gerwig Director’s Fund awards for Rutgers Cooperative Extension were given out on May 4, 2016 at an event at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health that celebrated the Gerwigs and their tireless devotion to extension and underserved populations in New Jersey. The Gerwigs were presented with the commemorative book, “Rutgers, A 250th Anniversary Portrait” by current RCE director, Larry S. Katz, and after some thoughtful and moving remarks by Mr. Gerwig, certificates were presented to Nicholas Polanin and his team for programing designed to empower women in agriculture, and to Michelle Brill and Jeannette Rey-Keywood for a professional development series to create programming for the developmentally disabled.

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John Gerwig.

John and Anne Gerwig are the embodiment of Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE). John joined 4-H when he was 5, became the extension agronomist early in his career, and is the longest serving director (1962-1992) in its history. Anne led the university’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program reaching limited resource families and was instrumental in obtaining critical employee benefits for paraprofessionals in extension.

John and Anne Gerwig wanted to help all of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. This devotion and desire led them to establish a fund that will provide resources to extension professionals in perpetuity. The goal of their $200,000 is to empower cooperative extension professionals so that they can make a bigger impact on New Jersey’s communities. A portion of the fund will be reserved to award through a formal “request for proposal” process set up and managed by the RCE director’s office. Remaining funds will be used to support emerging issues, internships, awarding additional proposals, and other needs that arise.

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Record-Breaking Heat Grips India Amid Rash of Farmer Suicides

Temperatures in India reached a record-breaking 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit Friday, according to the Associated Press, suffocating parts of the country, and drawing further attention to a tragic rash of suicide deaths among the nation’s impoverished farmers, who are battling drought and other environmental conditions that stifle agricultural production… "The heat wave in India is another example that our climate is changing," said Ben Horton, a scientist at the University of Rutgers who focuses on climate change. "We are now experiencing climate extremes that include droughts, wildfires, flood, storms, and tropical cyclones as well."

Read the entire article at WBT 1110 Charlotte »

Rutgers 250: NJAES Breed of the Month – Strawberries


Strawberry Availability Map

Strawberry Availability Map

Strawberry research at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) dates back to 1870. By the 1920s, strawberry research was focusing on strawberry breeding and variety trials. Some of the noteworthy strawberry cultivars released by Rutgers NJAES have been Sparkle, Jerseybelle and Raritan. The newest addition, Rutgers Scarlet which has exhibited good production and exceptional fruit flavor, is now ready for you to enjoy.

StrawberriesRead the Edible Jersey Article on Rutgers Scarlet™. Visit the Ag Products page for more information.  To check on availability, click on the map.

Revolutionary for 250 Years: Lyman Schermerhorn

Rutgers Revolutionary Lyman Schermerhorn (left) breeder of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s).

Rutgers Revolutionary Lyman Schermerhorn (left) breeder of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s).

Lyman Schermerhorn developed the Rutgers tomato in 1934 which turned out to be the leading commercially grown tomato variety of the mid-20th century. Schermerhorn, who was appointed as vegetable specialist in 1914, and worked on asparagus and rhubarb breeding, began the breeding of improved tomato varieties in 1926.  This new variety ripened from the inside out—so that when the fruit was red on the outside, it was ripe and colored throughout. It had disease resistance of and a delicious balanced flavor. Not only was Rutgers a top performing tomato for New Jersey’s processors, from Campbell Soup, Heinz, Hunt, and Ritter to smaller companies, but the Rutgers tomato continued to be a preferred choice of commercial growers through much of the mid-twentieth century. Visit:

John and Anne Gerwig Director’s Fund Award – John Gerwig’s Remarks

John Gerwig speaking at the first John and Anne Gerwid Directors Fund awards

John Gerwig speaking at the first John and Anne Gerwig Directors Fund awards

Dr. John L. Gerwig, Director of Rutgers Cooperative Extension 1962 – 1992, gave the following remarks on May 4, 2016 at the first awards presented to Cooperative Extension Faculty from the John and Anne Gerwig Director’s Fund.

“I learned long ago that if you make short comments that they can’t be all wrong.  First I would like to congratulate all of the recipients of the awards here today.  We never do enough to recognize outstanding work.  As you know we are celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Rutgers.  Some think that I am so old that I was here when it was founded.  I have been associated with Rutgers for 64 years.  That is 25% of the time that Rutgers has existed.

“When I first came to the Rutgers campus in 1952, I was lucky enough to know some of the early Faculty members that made an outstanding contribution toward the betterment of mankind.  My office was in Lipman Hall and Dr. Selman Waksman, who discovered antibiotics that wiped out T.B., was housed in that building as well. It was a soil sample taken from the area where the dairy barn is located that contained the antibiotic that became known as Streptomycin.  Lipman Hall was named for Dr. Jacob Lipman who was one of the early deans of the College of Agriculture, the forerunner of the present school.  Another famous member of the faculty was Dr. Schermerhorn who selected the famous Rutgers tomato which has now been resurrected and will be grown on farms and gardens throughout the world.  The Rutgers tomato has probably done more to put Rutgers on the map than any other contribution.  The Rutgers tomato was grown in our garden where I grew up and was what I knew about Rutgers until I came here to teach in 1952.  There was Dr. Blake who made New Jersey famous for the peach varieties that still make up a large part of the peach acreage in Eastern U.S.  There was Enos Perry that introduced artificial breeding in the country.  This was a major factor in raising the milk production in the U.S.  It also decreased the injury among dairymen because dealing with dairy bulls was a major contribution to the injury of dairymen on the farm.  These pioneers and others like them established the basis of our heritage. [Read more…]

What’s in Season from the Garden State: The Historic Rutgers Tomato Gets Re-invented in University’s 250th Anniversary Year

Breeder of the 'Rutgers' tomato, Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s)

Breeder of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s).

Of the hundreds of varieties of tomatoes grown by home gardeners or commercial growers, there are a few standards that have become household names. One of those is the ‘Rutgers’ tomato – a leading home garden and processing variety of the 20th century. While the Rutgers tomato is no longer commercially grown for canned tomato production, it is still a favorite among home gardeners and widely available from seed catalogs and garden centers.

The development of the Rutgers tomato is a lesson in the history of the early 20th century industries of canning and agriculture and a chapter in the story of the famed Jersey tomato. Introduced in 1934 by Rutgers vegetable breeder Lyman Schermerhorn, the variety was named for the university where it was developed. The name, however, belies the tomato’s origins, for the original cross was made at the Campbell Soup Company in 1928, with leading processing tomatoes as the parent varieties. In cooperation with Campbell’s, Schermerhorn selected the best plants from the cross and for the next six years conducted field tests on New Jersey farms and made further selections until in 1934 the most superior selection was released as the ‘Rutgers’ tomato.

At the time of the tomato release, the tomato canning industry was predominant in New Jersey, which went hand in hand with local tomato production. In the book Souper Tomatoes, author Andrew F. Smith described the industry as it first gained a foothold in New Jersey in the late 1800s, “Most farms in southern New Jersey from Trenton to Cape May cultivated tomatoes…Wagons and carriages of every description filled the roads on their way to the canneries. The roads were virtually painted red with squashed tomatoes that fell from the wagons. Most towns had one or more canneries.” [Read more…]

Terra Tech’s Subsidiary, Edible Garden, Signs Exclusive Agreement with Nutrasorb to Produce and Commercialize Nutrient-Rich Salad Blend

Terra Tech Corp. announced that its subsidiary, Edible Garden, a retail seller of locally grown hydroponic produce, herbs, and floral products, has signed an exclusive license agreement with Nutrasorb LLC, a spin-off of Rutgers University, to grow and commercialize nutritionally-enhanced lettuce varieties… "This is the first nutrient rich, health promoting, super salad blend, and we are excited to partner with Edible Garden on this initiative," said Dr. Ilya Raskin, Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University, School of Environmental & Biological Sciences and Chair & Managing Partner of Nutrasorb.

Read the entire article at PR Newswire »

Rutgers NJAES Board of Managers Hosts Rutgers Research Tour

Jim Simon (far left) gave the Rutgers NJAES Board of Managers and guests a tour of his greenhouse research.

Prof. Jim Simon (far left) gave the Rutgers NJAES Board of Managers and guests a tour of his campus greenhouse.

The Board of Managers (BOM), an advisory group to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES), is made up of representatives from New Jersey’s county boards of agriculture. The BOM also serves as advocate for the experiment station and provides input to NJAES’ directors on matters concerning the state’s agricultural enterprise. In addition to quarterly board meetings where members listen to faculty talk about their programs, the BOM hosts an annual tour of NJAES research facilities to get an in-depth perspective of the agricultural research conducted by Rutgers faculty. The BOM representatives invite fellow county board of ag members as well as county legislators and state ag officials to attend the tour. The 2016 tour took place on March 24 and encompassed research conducted on the George H. Cook Campus in New Brunswick and at the Snyder Research Farm in Pittstown, NJ. The county representatives were joined by Al Murray, assistant secretary of agriculture, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and Peter Furey, executive director, New Jersey Farm Bureau. [Read more…]

In a Midwestern cornfield, a scene of Chinese theft and espionage

United States law enforcement agencies are a urging farmers and businesses more broadly to be increasingly vigilant amid a rise in attempted thefts of genetically engineered seed and other commercial secrets… Carl Pray, a Rutgers University economist who specializes in Chinese agriculture, told the Monitor that "it may not ease the concerns of consumers who are largely focused on food safety."

Read the entire article at The Christian Science Monitor »